Who are we?

Amigos de Potosí is a foundation run by volunteers from the Netherlands and local Bolivian volunteers. We also receive support and donations from other countries.  The foundation started after the visit of a group of Dutch tourists and their tour leader  (Margret Kamphuis)to the mines of Potosí in 1994, They felt the urge  to do something to improve the living conditions for mineworkers and their families in Potosí, Bolivia.

Our first project started in 1994 and the foundation was established in 2002.

The mineworkers in Potosí work in the mines in terrible conditions. In temperatures reaching up to 45°C / 113° F and no fresh air, the miners dig for lead, silver, zinc and tin with hammers, iron bars and dynamite. Some children work in the mines by the time they are twelve years old. After 7 – 10 years in the mines, miners are very likely to suffer from silicosis (a lung disease caused by dust inhalation). The majority of miners do not outlive the age of 45.

What are our goals?

Increasing the quality of the working and living conditions of the miners and their families is our main goal. We strive to find durable solutions and work together with the beneficiaries.

Improving the quality of education and motivating youths to go to school is a very important part of our mission. Going to school and receiving a proper education decreases the chance that children are going to work in the mines. It increases the possibility to start a different profession in order to sustain themselves. Currently we are especially investing in education in the rural areas around Potosí. By providing schools with computers, internet, sanitation blocks, greenhouses or other types of investments, education is made more interesting for both the students and teachers.

Also, Amigos de Potosí would like to bring the situation in Bolivia to the world’s attention. We want to raise awareness regarding the benefits of International cooperation and the importance of education. 

How do we work?

The projects that we work on come from the beneficiaries themselves. Local contacts supervise the projects on site and report back to us. Through working together so closely with the beneficiaries, it becomes their project. This increases their involvement and the feeling of responsibility. They help us in a very concrete way with the projects, in the form of manual labor and transportation of materials or meals. Staying this close to the people in need has led to efficient, concrete and positive results.

This means we work quicker and more efficient because we avoid bureaucracy. There is no room for bribery and corruption. All the collected funds go straight to the projects for the miners, their families.

Why does our concept work?

Our projects may seem small, but they have big impacts. Because the ideas come directly from the beneficiaries, they are practical and valuable. By working together with the beneficiaries, we are able to create sustainable solutions for the problems they face.

Our local volunteers supervise the project and regularly report to us. Every year, at least one member of the board of Amigos de Potosí goes to visit the projects.

With regular updates and photos, we keep our sponsors well-informed of our work and progress. We post photos on our Facebook and send a newsletter with information and updates.

What have we already achieved?

For the mine workers:

  • 7 water reservoirs adjacent to different mine entrances at the “Cerro Rico”, the mountain where the mines are
  • Equipment for radio communication at the mines sanitary post

For the youths:

  • Greenhouses for growing vegetables for 3 primary schools
  • Solar heating showers for 2 primary schools
  • Toilet facilities for 1 primary school
  • computers with internet access for 2 high schools
  • washbasins and a water pump for a boarding school 

Where does the money came from?

We receive financial support from different groups of concerned people, or caring individuals.

Funds come from donations from friends, family, private funds, tourists who visit the mines, sponsorships of private individuals, companies and other organizations, fundraising events and campaigns carried out by friends and family.

How can you contribute?

Your donation is very welcome. Even with a little money we can already make a huge difference for the miners and their families.

IBAN: NL28RABO 0162237871 and BIC: RABONL2U
Account: Stichting Amigos de Potosi, Groningen, Netherlands
Registered Chamber of Commerce: 02077336